Quick Hits: July 7

  • Robert Downey Sr. – actor, filmmaker and father of Robert Downey Jr. – has died at the age of 85. Downey was a leading figure in the counterculture cinema of the 1960s, writing and directing such low budget features as Putney Swope, Pound and Greaser’s Palace. As an actor, he also appeared in bigger budget pictures like To Live and Die in L.A., Johnny Be Good, Boogie Nights and Magnolia.
  • Freaks and Geeks is now streaming on Paramount+, and hubby and I decided it was time for a rewatch. I will never tire of this perfect little gem of a show. When it began airing in the fall of 1999, the series was a massive critical success but NBC wasn’t sure how to market it and the ratings were dismal. The show moved time slots a couple of times, which also didn’t help it find an audience. Finally, NBC pulled the plug and burned off the remaining episodes over the summer. Freaks and Geeks was nominated for three Primetime Emmy Awards, and won – deservedly so – for Best Casting for a Comedy Series (the cast of then-unknowns included Linda Cardellini, Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jason Segel, Busy Phillips and John Francis Daley). If you’ve never seen Freaks and Geeks, what are you waiting for?
  • On this day in 1965, Otis Redding recorded “Respect”. Two years later, in a rare case of the cover version surpassing the original, Aretha Franklin rearranged the song and made it her own.
  • Happy 81st birthday, Ringo Starr! Last year, I made a playlist in celebration of his 80th. It’s still a fun listen.
  • George Cukor was born on this day in 1899. Director of such greats as The Philadelphia Story, Gaslight, Adam’s Rib, Born Yesterday, A Star is Born (1954) and My Fair Lady, Cukor was nominated for five Best Director Oscars, and won on his final nomination, for My Fair Lady. Cukor directed his last feature film (Rich and Famous, starring Jacqueline Bisset and Candice Bergen) at the age of 82, and died in January, 1983, at the age of 83.
  • Amazon has released the trailer for VAL, a documentary featuring home video footage from some fifty years in the life and career of Val Kilmer. Kilmer co-produced the doc along with his kids Jack and Mercedes, who appeared at Cannes this week to promote the film.
  • Syd Barrett died of pancreatic cancer on this day in 2006. Barrett co-founded Pink Floyd and was their original frontman and primary songwriter. He helped record the group’s first two albums, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn and A Saucerful of Secrets, but was ousted from the band for his excessive use of psychedelics (and possibly for his mental health issues). Barrett embarked upon a brief solo career, but retired from music and public life in 1972. David Gilmour replaced Barrett in Pink Floyd, and Roger Waters assumed creative direction of the band. “Shine On You Crazy Diamond”, a nine-part music suite dedicated to Barrett, appeared on 1975’s Wish You Were Here, my personal favorite Pink Floyd album.

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